As for the seed that fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
“Once a guy starts wearing silk pajamas, it’s hard to get up in the morning.” Those words by famous jockey Eddie Arcaro come to me this morning as I ponder today’s scripture. I say that because I find it difficult in affluent and distracted America to faithfully follow Jesus. I know well how comfort, pleasure and cares of life (‘silk pajamas’) can choke the power of God’s Word in my life.
But the culture tries to tell us that comfort and pleasure are life’s meaning. What more is there? Go for the Gusto! YOLO! That’s the bill of goods sold to us on Facebook, this week’s celebrity, and commencement speakers. But not by the Lord Jesus!
Today’s scripture comes from Jesus’ Parable of “The Seed and the Soils” warning about the “thorns” that “choke” the power of God’s Word in our lives. It is these thorns that keep us from maturing as believers and producing lasting spiritual fruit. The devil is far too clever to try and trap us by obvious sins, but happy to lure us into making money, having fun, and worrying.
C. S. Lewis picks up this theme in The Screwtape Letters. Lewis pictures Satan carefully avoiding that which might awaken us to our true spiritual condition. Thus, we see senior demon Screwtape, advising his demon Wormwood:
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy [God]. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one.
Indeed, the safest roads to Hell are the gradual ones like “the cares and riches and pleasures of life.” These distance us from God and choke out the Word of God in us. Ironically, we Christians in America have at our fingertips more Bible translations, commentaries, and theologies than the greatest saints would have seen in a lifetime. Churches are open 24/7 on the Internet. We have ready access to the world’s finest preachers and Bible teachers. Yet, I must ask myself, “With all of this available, am I growing in love and Christ-likeness? Does the Lord see in me enduring, spiritual fruit? Or, am I permitting the thorns of cares, riches, and pleasures to choke the nourishment and vitality of God’s Word?”
Lord, have mercy on me. I would seek first the Kingdom of God!
A fellow traveler,